“No culture can attempt to live if it attempts to be exclusive.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Although culture can initially be shaped by a subset of individuals, integrating their values and beliefs into everyday cultural norms, culture cannot continue to thrive if it attempts to be exclusive of its surroundings. Gandhi could not have stated such a truth so clearly – in order for organizations and the people who comprise them to continue to thrive, they must change to stay relevant within the marketplace. The change, though, must stay true to the organizations guiding principles in order to be effective, as outlined in the first part of my 2-part series.
In part one of this two part series, I discussed why culture is the impetus for implementing change throughout your organization and how this is essential to stay relevant in today’s marketplace. In part two, I’ll provide tactical insights for enhancing your organizational culture, including the incorporation of positive business principles.
How Culture Enables Change and Growth
To create a culture which supports significant transformational change, organizations must consider enabling positive business principles in everyday interactions to enhance employee well-being. All of these principles are very closely intertwined, and it is the integration of these principles which ensures success and growth. Although there are various principles which are being studied and researched across the globe, including at the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizations, a few stand out as being critical principles for improving employee engagement while enabling change within your organization.
- Benefits: Employees who are thriving have a tendency to be more resilient, and they are not typically as afraid of change as other employees. Thriving employees typically have strong interpersonal relationships within the workplace, and they are able to collaborate with others to ensure they bounce back in the event of any struggles. Thriving employees also display resiliency when it comes to their health –only requiring 1/3 of the healthcare costs of a non-thriving employee, as indicated in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report (2013).
- Action Steps:
- Ensure leaders within your organization are clearly communicating the company’s mission and purpose frequently. In order for employees to thrive and be engaged, they need to understand how their individual contribution relates to the company’s mission.
- Provide opportunities for your employees to collaborate frequently and even beyond the workplace (i.e. volunteer events), in order to help them develop deeper relationships and meet their best friends at work.
- Benefits: By instilling an environment where compassion is practiced and encouraged, employees will feel more at ease when certain aspects of the change initiative do not go exactly as planned. These individuals will in turn become proponents and champions of the work taking place, and can serve as the coalition which leads the engagement through the good and the bad, ensuring success in the end.
- Action Steps:
- Consider embedding certain activities into your recruiting process by posing questions which allow you to gauge how likely someone is to exhibit compassion in the workplace. The largest driver of an employee’s engagement (and retention) is their relationship with their manager; we are all familiar with the adage “people leave managers, not jobs.” Compassionate managers are more effective and drive the highest level of employee engagement.
- Embed compassionate responses into the training delivered to managers. Role play difficult situations which may arise in a manager’s career, and encourage managers to embrace these situations through compassion.
- Positive Deviance
- Benefits: By recognizing excellence within the workplace, organizations are supporting positive deviance. Through recognition, employees feel appreciated and supported – increasing employee engagement. By reinforcing the positive achievements of the organization, you are propelling an appreciative culture which strives for excellence.
- Action Steps:
- Before implementing a transformation initiative, focus on specific areas which can serve as quick wins to demonstrate the potential value of the overarching initiative.
- After a companywide initiative or event is completed, rather than focusing solely on the improvement areas, debrief on the positive anomalies. Leverage these positive occurrences to refine your future state so that your organization is more likely to turn these rarities into everyday accomplishments. For example, consider incorporating corporate mythology to describe the experiences which were just witnessed. If I attended a firm-wide happy hour, there may be a few distinct moments of overwhelming laughter which brought the team together. By reliving these moments, we are defining that which caused the laughter as a point of positive deviance, which in turn, promotes that type of behavior across the organization.
- Highlight positive deviance within your workplace while recruiting. These remarkable stories will certainly attract new employees to your ranks.
The development of your organizational culture shouldn’t stop with your Human Resources department. We all need to take charge in creating our organizational cultures and embedding it into the norms of everyday behavior in our offices.
By employing positive principles, organizations can form a culture which spurs and sustains employee engagement, embraces innovation through change and takes advantage of endless opportunities in the marketplace, all while improving the revenue growth and profitability.
For further insight into how your organization can enable a culture responsive to change, reach out to Gordana Radmilovic at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gordana Radmilovic is a leader within West Monroe Partners’ Transformation Center of Excellence and a Manager within our Insurance practice.